Charlottesville’s the place to stay if you’re gay…in Virginia, anyway
The Hook pointed it out last November in its cover story, "Is our town the Little Apple?"–-Charlottesville is a gay-friendly refuge in a largely gay-unfriendly state. While Virginians voted overwhelmingly (58%) to approve the state's constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman last November–-which essentially amounted to a ban on gay marriage–-Charlottesville voters rejected the amendment by the largest margin in the state, nearly 80 percent.
In a Washington Post article today, that reputation for tolerance received a further boost, as writer Gary Lee called the Inn at Court Square "one of the most gay-friendly hotels in Virginia." The article goes on to profile the inn's owner Candace DeLoach, who says she's "thrilled" by the special attention. The popular Inn has been featured in high-profile magazines and newspapers before, she says, but never from a gay-friendly angle.
"The Post writer said he visited a number of gay-friendly places in Virginia," says DeLoach, who is gay, " but he chose to feature the Inn at Court Square...I was very honored."
Of course, the article mentions our blue politics in a largely red state as a reason for our tolerance, but it also focuses on the Downtown Mall's urban culture, where same-sex couples can be seen strolling and dining, and where clubs like Gravity Lounge and Club 216 cater to gay clientele.
"I've always felt comfortable walking down the mall with my partner," says DeLoach, who adds that Charlottesville has always been an accepting place. "I've been here 15 years, and I've always felt comfortable."
Still, DeLoach acknowledges that there are still places in the Virginia hinterlands, places not so far away, that are not so accepting. "I'm careful not to go to places where I might make people uncomfortable," she says magnanimously.
As for Charlottesville, she thinks the growth and popularity of the mall, combined with the growing acceptance of gays nationally, has made it even more accepting in recent years.
One question she was asked didn't make it into the article, says DeLoach.
"The writer asked me how I train my staff," she says. "I thought it was an interesting question. Apparently, some places need to train their staffs to deal with gay people, but the answer came to me immediately. I didn't train them. I didn't have to train them. They wouldn't work for me, and wouldn't want to, if they didn't like gay people."